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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  February 23, 2013 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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and it was the last lap of the race. the engine from rookie kyle larsen's car went into the catch fence. it caught fire and then witnesses say large chunks from the tire, from the car, as well as a tire, went flying high up into the grandstand and hit a number of the people. first responders were here immediately. they're already standing by in case something happens on the track. never thinking that it's going to happen up in the stands. they have people on stretchers within a matter of moments. 11 people taken to the hospital. we are told one is in critical condition with trauma to the head and at this time is in surgery. nascar and daytona officials are about to start a news conference here to update the injuries. tony stewart, the winner of the race, skipped the traditional post-race celebration, he seemed shaken by what happened. it's important to note all the drivers involved in the crash were treated and released. this is not the first time that this has happened at a nascar race. it was 2009 at talladega there
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were eight people injured, so there is precedent for this before. but not here. a lot of people tonight saying that the catch fence here saved many lives. and did its job. lester, back to you. >> frightening pictures there tonight, janet shamlian, thank you. remember that fiscal cliff this country nearly toppled over at the end of 2012? congressional republicans and the president reached an 11th-hour deal that brought us back to safer ground temporarily. guess what, tonight almost two months later we're teetering on the ledge again, this time they're calling it sequestration. not as catchy a name but its impact on every single american is no less profound. six days from now, unless a budget deal is reached, a massive round of automatic government spending cuts will go into effect. if you thought the urgency of the situation would have the white house and republicans burning the midnight oil to make a deal you'd be mistaken. nbc's kristen welker is at the white house. to tell us more about what's at
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stake. kristen? >> reporter: good evening. president obama has said he would be in contact with members of congress, but according to my sources here at the white house and on the hill there have been no top-level discussions today and there is no resolution in sight. at the governors association meeting in washington, bipartisan frustration. >> the uncertainty of sequestration is really harming our states and national economy. >> there can't be any question. this is something nobody wants. right? it's not a balanced, thoughtful compromise. >> reporter: hope for a deal is fading but the president said today there is still time. >> these cuts don't have to happen. congress can turn them off any time with just a little compromise. >> reporter: recent polls show a majority of americans support the president's plan to avert the sequester through new taxes and spending cuts. but house republicans say they just agreed to raise taxes and this deal should be solely based on slashing spending. >> house republicans have
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already passed two bills to replace the president's sequester. so the question is, why won't he work with us? and the answer, quite simply, is because he wants higher taxes. >> reporter: meanwhile the obama administration is warning of dire consequences. arguing as many as 10,000 teachers could be laid off. more than 1,000 fbi agents could see cutbacks or furloughs. there could be as many as 2,100 fewer food safety inspections. on friday, outgoing transportation secretary ray lahood said travelers would see major delays. >> this is going to have a real impact. calamity. it's a big deal. >> reporter: lahood said faa would need to trim $1 billion, that's less than 2% of the entire transportation budget. >> i think you've got a little bit of scare tactics going on there. >> reporter: and there is still finger-pointing over whose idea this was in the first place. in a "washington post" op-ed, bob woodward claims it came directly from the white house, writing, "obama personally approved the plan."
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white house officials have argued that the majority of house republicans voted to approve the sequester. as for furloughs, government officials say the majority of them won't take effect for about a month. lester? >> kristen, thank you. for more on how all this is playing out we're joined by cnbc's chief washington correspondent john harwood. if we get to friday, they don't make a deal, do these cuts all play out at once or do they transpire over a series of weeks or months? >> they'll play out for a while, maybe not for a long while. even though both parties seem willing to let the sequester go into effect there's a lot not to like for both sides. if we see the effects like longer air travel delays you're going to see increasing pressure from their constituents to negotiate some sort of alternative. >> for the last couple of years we've heard about the so-called grand bargain. is that just a dream or is it something we could see happen to solve all this? >> it's hard to be optimistic after all we've seen. but a republican member of congress told me this week that
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it's still possible that republicans would accept more tax revenue in the context of tax reform if democrats give ground on entitlements. because of the recent slow-down nationally in health care costs, reining in medicare is a more manageable problem than it's been in years. >> john harwood, good to have you tonight, thank you. we turnover seas to south africa, where tonight oscar pistorius is living in his uncle's house, after being released on bond unable to return to his own home, where he shot and killed his girlfriend nine days ago. tonight we're hearing from reeva ste steenkamp's father. michelle kosinski is in south africa with the latest. >> reporter: oscar pistorius went to his uncle's house after being released on bond yesterday, not allowed back in his own home which is the scene of the alleged crime. tonight we're hearing from his girlfriend's father, bitterly grieving, saying he someday
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might forgive pistorius, on one condition. oscar pistorius did not venture outside his uncle's home today where cameras of course were waiting. probation officers did pay him a visit. one of the many conditions of his release that is he can't go home where pistorius shot and killed reeva steenkamp early valentine's day morning, he says mistaking her for a burglar in his bathroom. today "beeld" ran an interview with her father barry. describing him as sobbing on the couch. steenkamp saying, there are only two people who really know what happened, oscar pistorius and the lord. it doesn't matter how much money he has and how good his legal team is, he must live with his conscience if he allows his legal team to lie on his behalf. if it did not happen as he told it, he must suffer. and he will suffer, only he knows. if he speaks the truth, i can perhaps someday forgive him. the pistorius family, emotional and so supportive of oscar in court, sent the steenkamp family flowers and a card. yes, but what does it mean? steenkamp's mother was quoted as saying. "nothing. now everything is taken away from letter in such a violent way.
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we just want to know the truth." people around the world have reached out to them. including princess charlene of monaco, who is from south africa. messages of support have been posted on pistorius' redesigned website, now devoted to that purpose and the latest developments in the case, showing him with his children and his hand over his heart. his release causing split reactions. >> he's a national figure, he's well known everywhere. >> i think the guy is, you know, he should be behind bars. >> reporter: now he can live his life, though needing permission to travel even outside his town, having to check in at a police station twice a week. although his agent canceled all his upcoming races, sponsors including nike have suspended sponsorships, his coach wants to start training him again as soon as possible to clear his mind, possibly as early as monday. pistorius might have a long time to wait for trial under this system, though the eyes of the world are now on it. he doesn't have to be back in
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court until june. lester? >> michelle, thanks. tomorrow at the vatican, pope benedict xvi will offer a final public blessing before he retires next thursday. as cardinals gather for the election of a new pope, the vatican today was sharply critical of a wave of reports in the italian media. nbc's anne thompson is at the vatican. good evening to you. >> reporter: good evening, lester. it was an unusually strong rebuke from the vatican for going after the media for running false news reports, they claim, to influence the election of the next pope. now, this pushback came after several unsourced stories in an italian newspaper this week claim pope benedict decided to resign after receiving a secret report in december outlining corruption and misconduct inside the vatican. church officials here denied that story and today the vatican secretary of state issued a
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statement saying, it is deplorable that there are unverified, unverifiable, and completely false news stories that harm persons or institutions. now, while all this was going on, pope benedict after his week-long lenten retreat was getting back to business. he met with the italian president this morning, he named new bishops to italy and mexico. tomorrow, as you said, he will address the crowd one last time here in st. peters square, give them his final sunday blessing. the second to last public event before he retires. >> and the timing, anne, coincidental, but cardinal roger mahoney of los angeles being deposed on the very issue of clergy sex abuse. what more can you tell us about that? >> reporter: well, he spent four hours with attorneys today as scheduled. and then after that questioning, the attorneys asked for more time. it's not clear whether he is still being questioned. however, cardinal mahoney is planning to come to rome to participate in the conclave, to select the new pope.
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earlier this week a cardinal here in italy suggested that he stay home for the role he played in shielding abusive priests. lester? >> anne thompson in rome tonight, thanks. here in this country, more heavy weather is on the way. it's from that same storm that crippled parts of the midwest and it's now headed to new england. at the same time, a big new storm is churning out west. let's bring in meteorologist kim cunningham with the latest. it seems like a broken record. >> it does. we've been so busy, it's like every weekend we're getting a storm here in the northeast. this is the one that did bring all that snow to the plains. we're going to see it bring some snow to boston, maybe a rain-snow mix starting out. northwest of boston and into maine is where we're going to see probably 6 to 12 inches of snow before this is all done. boston maybe about 3 inches. mixing with probably rain through tomorrow. wind will be a problem as well. then we're going to focus our attention on the next storm to come out of the rockies. this will bring snow into denver. that will be through tomorrow. then the same areas that got up
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to 2 feet of snow and still 7 inches of snow on the ground in kansas city will see an additional 6 to 12 inches. in chicago, you're also going to be dealing with this. looks like tuesday we'll start to see the snow come in. possibly 3 to 6 inches of snow, there are 3 inches of snow still on the ground. we're going to watch this storm take shape. same areas getting a lot of heavy snow. eventually this will move to the east coast again. we'll be watching this one very closely. back to you. >> kim, thank you. the pentagon made a big announcement as we headed into the weekend. it's putting the country's single largest weapons program on hold. all 51 of the pentagon's new f-35 fighter jets will be grounded following the discovery of a cracked turbine blade in one of the plane's engines. it's the second time in two weeks the government has had to pause the $396 billion weapons program. trouble for another big program tonight. at this moment the most contaminated nuclear site in the country is leaking a mix of radioactive and toxic material
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into the soil. the waste is coming from old underground tanks in washington state's hanford nuclear reservation, a site that produced plutonium for the bombs dropped in world war ii. officials say the leak is not an immediate threat since it will likely take years for the chemicals to reach the groundwater. when "nightly news" continues on this saturday, finding the next big breakthroughs in medicine. a new generation of scientists gets millions to make it happen. the new power of the internet is driving a song to the top of the charts.
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it's not every day that researchers try to cure cancer and other serious diseases say they hit the jackpot. that's what happened this week when 11 scientists were told they were each being awarded $3 million to fund their future research. nbc's chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman has the story. >> reporter: dr. corey bardman of rockefeller university received an unexpected phone call. >> i thought it was probably one of my friends playing a practical joke. >> reporter: she was told she had been chosen to receive a $3 million cash prize for her research in brain development. which will hopefully provide breakthroughs in disorders like autism and schizophrenia. >> this is more like winning the lottery. >> reporter: ten other scientists worldwide joined bardman in receiving the award. the first of its kind. including dr. lewis cantly of cornell medical college, being
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recognized for cancer and diabetes research. >> i was glad i was sitting down, i almost fell. >> reporter: it's not just the money that surprised these scientists. the people behind it did too. tech billionaires, including russian entrepreneur yuri milliner, facebook cofounder mark zuckerberg, google co-founder sergei brynn and others formed a nonprofit called breakthrough prize in life sciences. instead of recognizing scientists who are already known for their accomplishments, these 11 recipients are young and studying novel breakthroughs in cancer, gene therapy, and stem-cell research. >> these are people who don't necessarily get a lot of recognition but they're actually doing things that impact all of our lives. >> reporter: more than twice the amount of the nobel prize, the breakthrough prize is the largest scientific award that exists. the $3 million allows a
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scientist to invest in a lab and recruit other young scientists, allowing them to rely less on increasingly tight federal budgets. >> it's making a statement by rewarding the people who have been making progress. >> reporter: the announcement of this prize may mean that the future of research in the united states is going to be very different. it may no longer be dependent on east coast establishments like the nih and national cancer institute. it may instead lie on the other coast. in the heart of the silicon valley. dr. nancy snyderman, nbc news, new york. when we come back, the first lady as we rarely get to see her.
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you're looking at new video of italy's mt. aetna erupting this week. europe's tallest volcano had been rumbling over a year before it erupted, lighting up the predawn sky. italian scientists managed to get there in time to record the stunning images. speaking of incredible images, this new photo was released today of a meteor streaking through the sky in southern california. dozens reported seeing a green fireball. photographer susan larry was north of los angeles when it happened. she was setting up her camera for a night shot when she caught an image of the basketball-sized meteor. first lady michelle obama showed the world last night that she is also the first lady of dance. demonstrating her moves on "late night with jimmy fallon." ♪ the dancing took place before the first lady's interview with fallon which focused on her "let's move" campaign against childhood obesity. when asked by the host to grade the president's dance moves,
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mrs. obama gave him a "b." the jersey worn by the captain of the u.s. olympic hockey team which won the so-called miracle on ice went up for auction. the game took place in the 1980 winter games and is widely considered one of the greatest sporting events ever played. the mostly amateur team usa beat a dominant russian squad 4-3 before going on to win cold. the jersey is expected to win at least $1 million. at least one midwestern resident enjoyed the terrible weather that region has seen this past week. berlin the bear. appeared to have a grand old time frolicking around in the snow like a puppy. berlin is being housed at a zoo in kansas city because her normal home in duluth is flooded. from the music world a sad note to report about the passing of a one-time member of the temptations. ♪ >> otis harris sang the lead on the 1972 hit "papa was a rolling stone." he was the youngest member of the group, auditioning when he
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was just 21 years old. he earned three grammy awards with the temptations before leaving the group in 1975. his family tells us wilson died earlier this week after a long battle with prostate cancer. he was 62. up next here tonight, why the hit songs of today owe more to youtube than ever before.
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"billboard" will shake things up in an effort to accommodate hits that explode on
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new media. the billboard "hot 100," the magazine's legendary singles chart, will now include the number of clicks a song gets on youtube as part of its formula. katy tur has more tonight. >> reporter: no doubt you've heard it. and seen it. again. and again. if you haven't, it's called the harlem shake. thanks to all these youtube spoofs, it's now the top single on the billboard charts. 103 million views, 262,000 downloads. last week it didn't even place. >> the reality is youtube isn't just something that can help a song become a hit at this point. youtube is like an infrastructure where a song can be a hit all unto itself. >> reporter: "billboard's" bill wordy says youtube views will join digital track downloads, physical single says, satellite and radio play, as well as on-demand streaming, in the
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complex mix of criteria for how songs rate on billboard's hot 100. given the popularity of music on video sites some can say "billboard" is behind the times. think of gotye, psi, justin bieber. all of whom made it big on the computer screen. you know the good old days you'd have to walk into a record store, buy an album that would play a role whether or not the song went to number one. you also got pretty cool album art in the process. then technology came along and ruined everything. so long, vinyl. hello, iphone. >> it's either going to democratize the way music is made or end music as we know it. >> reporter: carmen was fighting for clicks just a couple years ago. now they're a bond fide hit. as for this week's top charts, the change means rihanna's stay went from 57 to 3.
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and drake started at the bottom from 63 to 10. a top 10 for the history books. but with short online attention spans, next week, who knows. it could be you. katy tur, nbc news, new york. >> that's nbc "nightly news." i'm lester holt reporting from new york. see you in the morning on "today" then right back here tomorrow evening. good night. at daytona sends debris into the stands. dozens of fans injured. how it happens. also, no one goes away in
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handcuffs, people walk away with money after they turn in their guns. >> the typical gun buy back event a big success. the people who organized today's trade-in, and what inspired them to do it. more than a million people expected in san francisco this evening to celebrate the chinese new year. we'll show you the spectacular parade as it marches through the city. good evening. i'm terry mcsweeney. >> and i'm diane dwyer. las vegas police tonight identify a suspect and vehicle that killed a victim from oakland. they found the suspected black range recover used in an apartment complex east of the las vegas strip. impounded as evidence. kenny "clutch" cherry died to a
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gunshot wound to the chest. it rammed a taxi which caused a fire and killed a taxi driver and passenger. the man's charges include kidnapping and pannering. hundreds of guns taken off the streets thanks to gun buyback programs. one in palo alto, a bit different than the others. organized by two dads. nbc bay area kimberly carrie live with the story. >> reporter: earlier today, the parking lot packed with turning no guns for cash no questions asked in a matter of 2:40, the organizers were out of money and turning people away, having spent 52,000 in exchange for 355 firearms. the event was a joint effort between palo alto, east palo alto, and menlo park this is the second gun buyback event they've had recently. the last one


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